judy blame's riot de-luxe
As Judy Blame launches a new zine to mark the end of his ICA retrospective, we present a peek inside it’s anarchic pages and catch up with the man himself, the inimitable riotous spirit behind much of what makes fashion great.
Few people have had more of an impact on the magazine you're reading right now than Judy Blame. As a stylist, art director, inspiration, collagist, designer, he's helped to define i-D's spirit over the last 35 years. Judy was the first to shoot Alexander McQueen and Jourdan Dunn for us and his work spans generations, working with fathers and sons, Mark and Tyrone Lebon.
Few people, more generally, have had such an impact on British fashion too. As an integral member of both Buffalo and the House of Beauty and Culture, Judy's been at the rebellious, innovative heart of fashion for over two decades. From Boy George to Bjork, Neneh Cherry to Duran Duran, he's always crafted a space for fashion and pop to overlap in a riotous, free, and iconoclastic manner. With his line of jewelry, he's moved effortlessly between high and low, turning garbage into something priceless and reimagining detritus as finery, whilst the likes of Louis Vuitton and Galliano call upon his remarkable craft.
Recently he was honored for this lifetime of work with an exhibition at London's ICA. "The whole point of the show was to illustrate how I put my ideas together," Judy explains of his rebellious bricolage of ephemera — explosion of ideas and forms — and beautiful eye for how things intersect. "I wanted people who don't know my work to be able to leave the ICA and have a sense of how I put things together; to especially show young people who now seem to create their ideas via machines how one off and hand crafted my style is."
The retrospective was an intimate look back on his work and career, at the heart of it was Judy's dedication to a place where not just fashion and music overlap, but also a place where fashion and music become vehicles for sexual and racial diversity and inclusion — places to talk about politics, challenge the status quo, fight for a fairer future. Instead of a traditional catalogue, Judy released Riot De-luxe, a, well, riotous newsprint zine stuffed full of Judy's work, collages, political slogans. It's a space to highlight the causes close to his heart, from the environment to gun control.
"We didn't have the budget to do a catalogue for the show," Judy states. "I wanted to use things from my archive so kids could walk away from the show with a little bit of backstage." And anyway, a fanzine is more Judy than a trad art catalogue. "It's a format is a part of my own roots, it's something I wanted to try bring up to date."
So Riot De-luxe was created. A selection of works torn and reassembled from Judy's archive and scrapbooks, featuring contributions from Juergen Teller, Jean Baptiste Mondino, Simon Fowler, Mark Lebon, and bound in the iconographic adidas three stripes on the back, and a picture of the Queen covered in safety pins on the front. It couldn't have happened without adidas either. "While putting this project together I had told Gary Aspden at adidas, he loved the idea and adidas ended up helping with the production and printing of it. He knew that I'd worn adidas for over 25 years and used it in my work and knew I wanted to use the graphic in the work within the zine."
"The three images to me which really say Judy Blame," he states of the zines defining photos, "are Scarlett Napoleon Boredello wearing the first major piece of jewelry I made, the black beads. My other favorite is the i-D cover of Grace Bol, which illustrates perfectly how I mix things up. Lastly is the picture of me tarred and feathered — a real fashion victim!"
"I have quite a hard graphic style and wanted to do something that included images that had never been seen before," he suggests, more generally. I wanted to use old Polaroids, contact sheets and slogans which have been taken from my past. I treasure my memories but I am too busy looking forward to be constantly referring to my past."
In true Judy spirit, all donations go to St Mary's Hospital More Smiles Appeal, so there's no excuse not to buy it. "If you read the letter at the end of Riot you understand why I wanted to turn any income from this project and put it towards a very good cause. I'm playing around with the concepts of protests and charity so we will construct the next issue when I feel like shouting out again."
Text Felix Petty
Images courtesy Judy Blame